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October 2014




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Oct. 9th, 2014

Joe's Hen House part 7...

I was invited to a couple of parties this week and blew them off. My paintbrush had other ideas...

Aug. 28th, 2014

A little validation can be like sweet butter spread thickly over dry bread...

Tonight a woman I once loved, who's become a good friend made me feel like a genuinely valued part of her life. I'm feeling pretty damned good.
Edit: I'm talking about lorigami in this instance...

Aug. 24th, 2014


A few posts back, I told a story about knocking on a certain person's door. I honestly thought that little anecdote would have been the end of that story, but am surprised to say that I was wrong.
I waited about a week and sent her a text, asking how she was holding up after my crashing back into her life. She responded that she had talked with some of her friends about it and the general consensus was that what I'd done was brave. I don't know if I agree with that, but they encouraged her to be open to a friendship, so who am I to argue?
Anyway, she asked me out to lunch and I accepted. We had a nice time and got caught up on each other's lives.
A week later, I asked her to dinner. I took her for a foot massage at "Treat Your Feet", followed by Thai food. She was anxious to get home because of her dog. I took her home to meet her beautiful German Shepherd, Jack. Unfortunately, Jack was thirteen years old and clearly not long for the world. He's incontinent, so she was in a hurry to get him outside and he didn't quite make it. Their love for each other was obvious and heart breaking. Before I left, I told her that it was obvious that she was going to have to make a hard decision soon, and if she'd like some support, I'd be happy to come over. I never imagined that she'd take me up on the offer, but she did. She called me the night before and asked if I'd come. I had to work, so I couldn't be there for the sad moment, but arrived a couple of hours after. I spent three hours holding her while she cried.
I know that those three hours were not about me, but you have to understand. Twenty five years ago, I broke this woman's heart and now she's trusting me to comfort her during a dark hour. I was overcome by the honor.
I checked up on her over the next week and invited her to come over for dinner. I knocked her out with my Chicken and Quinoa Soup and (because she's a Beatles fan) showed her Across the Universe. Owing to the preforementioned comforting, there was platonic cuddling during the movie.
A week later, she invites me to dinner at her place. She's Italian and serves up a fabulous ravioli. Afterward, we can't find anything to watch on cable, so I show her the series premiere of Sherlock on Netflix while we cuddle on her couch. We both get a little "hands-ie" but don't talk about it.
The next week, she agreed to let me cook for her at my place. I killed it with a Tuscan White Bean and Tomato Soup and Italian Crostinis. Afterward, we cuddled on the couch and watched something I can't recall due to all the kissing.
I spent last weekend in Seattle, visiting family. During the weekend, I texted her a pic of me with Mount Rainier behind me and told her that I found myself thinking of her. She replied with a simple "Ditto". I almost split my face grinning.
This week, she invited me over to share a bottle of wine and hang out. Three hours of half-naked making out on her bed. No actual sex, and frankly, that felt right. It felt like we're slowly ramping up to something special. I have to say that I cannot recall a more intimate and satisfying time with a woman. Not in recent memory anyway.
So, I've been walking around with this stupid grin on my face. Trying to remind myself that I've just ended an eighteen year relationship and am in no shape to be serious about anyone. I should be off on a newly liberated fuck-fest, right?
The woman in question has an Aunt visiting this weekend and they invited me to join them for a drink at Brickstore Pub. I joined them and, sitting next to her, felt uncommonly comfortable.
I'm actually kind of pissed off about this, but I think...
I think...

Aug. 7th, 2014


Milestones...Helluva Day...

So, I've posted these two pics before. It's a shot of my wife and I posing together on the roof top of the William Oliver building with our top floor loft at the Metropolitan directly behind us. The only reason these pics are interesting is that we'd only been dating a month when the first shot was taken and had no idea that we'd not only eventually marry, but our future home was looming over our shoulders as our very first photo as a couple was taken. I always loved that story. It was one of a thousand reasons that I always believed we were meant to be.
This morning our divorce was finalized. We had to be at the court house by nine a.m. and the entire proceedings took all of ten minutes.
Eighteen years and ten minutes.
Afterward, we walked to our cars and talked on the sidewalk. We hugged and I asked if she was okay and she said yes. She asked if I was okay and I said yes, but the thing I kept thinking about was all of the stories. I mean, we're done. No question. But you can't spend eighteen years in anyone's company without racking up a crazy amount of stories. Most of them good ones. I'm glad we decide to end things, but I'm still wrapping my brain around the concept of not being with the person I shared so many adventures with.
It is what it is though, and I'm fine.
So, since I moved out, I've been casually dating. Not looking for anything or anyone in particular. Just carefully dipping my toes back in the water. One woman in particular is an old friend who I'd lost track of over the years. She's beautiful and smart and I thought we might get along, so I asked her out. We went out off and on for a few weeks and I saw pretty quickly that, despite her distracting hotness, this thing didn't have any legs. The first problem is that she has a three and a half year old daughter (the father died of a surprise massive heart attack at 35) who would very much like a new Daddy. I'm sorry but, any man should feel honored to get to fulfill that role for such a charming child, but the guy who is still wobbling his way out of an eighteen year boxing match is just not qualified.
The second problem is that I saw pretty early on that we're just not a good fit and could also see that she's the type that would happily ignore that fact to get what she wants. In short(a mistake I've made myself more than once), the sex was good, but the conversations were awful. I kept seeing her casually because frankly, I've been lonely and well...you know. Men are stupid.  I've known that I was going to have to end it, but was dreading having to do it.
She sent me a text today asking about the proceedings. I responded that it was all done, and would she like to help me celebrate. We agreed to meet for a late dinner at Rosebud. I actually was feeling celebratory, which for me requires oysters, a steak and a really good martini. She knew the restaurant and seemed excited to help me celebrate.
Anyway, we greeted each other at the restaurant with warm embraces, knowing grins and mutual concern for each other's days. We shared a dozen oysters and two Ceasar salads before entrees. We exchanged electrically charged, sly innuendo regarding whatever the evening might bring after dinner, back at my place...
My night of newly liberated celebration seemed to be going my way.
Then, for whatever reason, we got on to politics. She doesn't consider herself a Republican, but rather a Libertarian and doesn't want to hear my arguments about Libertarians spawning the Tea Party. She claims to hate Obama and can't understand why I like him. The only point we seem to agree on is the fact that we both believe the system is broken. She won't hear any reason regarding Obama and pretty soon we're arguing.
Our server drops the check and she gets up and tells me goodnight.
I said good night watched her leave, cross the street to her car and drive off. I filled out the tab ($165.00) and thought, "Cheapest breakup ever."
Driving home I mused..."So this is what it's going to be like now..."

Jun. 19th, 2014


Literature am Good...

Turns out that living alone has unexpected silver linings. Lately, I've been opening my iPad less and picking up my books more. I have tons of books that I love and have read many times, and there was a time in my life when I might have three or four books going at any given time. A book on the night stand. A book in my shoulder bag. A book at work. A book in the shitter. Somewhere along the line, I just stopped reading. M has a unique talent for unwarranted interruption while you're trying to read, enjoy a song, watch a television program, etc... Seriously, she's pathological. Anyway,now I have plenty of quiet space and have been rediscovering the joys of losing myself in a good story. Today I decided that I was bored with my collection and resolved to hit the book store at least once a week. I drove over to Barnes and Noble and came across a copy of "Memories of My Melancholy Whores" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It's absolutely wonderful.

Jun. 14th, 2014

Back in the saddle again...

So, I'm finally settling in to the new apartment and am tired of this painting's mocking derision. Here's an update. I just began the couple on the right, but they'll be moist and finished shortly...

Jun. 13th, 2014

A 25 year old band-aid...

I did something tonight that I've been trying to find the balls to do for over a year. Here's the back story;
Twenty five years ago, I broke a nice girl's heart. She was wonderful and honestly loved me. I loved her too, but I was young and stupid and male. Those last two are redundant, right? Anyway, not long after I fucked it up, I realized my idiocy and tried for years to win her back but it was too late. 25 years of hindsight allows me just enough wisdom to know that we never would have made it long term, but that doesn't excuse my behavior, which I'll always regret.
She ended up marrying a guy who I knew to be a dick and ended up proving me right. He ended up being a ten year train wreck in her life. Doing more damage than even I had. I eventually lost track of her and moved on with my life. I had other relationships and eventually got married. I often thought about her though. Not in a "I'd like to get back together" way. I really just wanted to know if she was okay. If she was happy and healthy and had found herself a life. What can I say? Some people just make a bigger impact than others and are hard to forget. Occasionally I'd google her and come up empty. She has almost no internet footprint and isn't on facebook.
So about a year ago, I was stuck in accident traffic on North Decatur Rd. and turned off on surface streets to try and find a different route to Clairmont Rd. I didn't know the neighborhood and got lost. I turned a corner and spotted a woman taking her garbage can from the street down her driveway and rolled down my window. I was a split second from saying "Pardon me Miss." when I realized it was her and drove away fast in a panic. As far as I knew, she still (quite rightfully) hates me, so I bolted.
So now I suddenly knew where she lived and couldn't get it out of my head. I told my best friend who remembers her well. He asked if I was harboring fantasies about her and I told him no. All I wanted was to know if she was okay. He said that if that was true, then I should pull my head out of my ass and go knock on her door. The thought of it petrified me and for a year I've been suppressing the thought.
Then a couple of months ago, my Mom learned that her ex husband had passed away. My Mom felt that she'd owed the man many apologies owing to her past behavior and was upset that she'd never gotten around to making them and now it was too late. She told me that if I had anyone like that in my life, I should make my amends before I found myself in her shoes. I made a silent vow to take her advice but still kept avoiding the subject.
I've been feeling glum and lonely this week and tonight, for no particular reason, climbed into my car and drove to her house. I walked up to her door upon icy, trembling legs and did something that truly terrified me.
I knocked.
Two hours of mutually nervous conversation later, I left her, feeling that I'd somehow managed to do some good and mend some wounds for a good woman who I'll never not love and respect.
Turns out that she's just fine. Thinking that a woman like her could be ruined by a douche like me is just insulting.
I feel good about myself for taking the chance though.

Apr. 10th, 2014

Episode IV: A New Hope...

You know that old chestnut about the "darkness before the dawn"? After M said what she said at our first counseling session, I immediately knew that we were done, but decided not to say anything yet. Our counselor's method is to talk with us together first, then individually before meeting with us both again, so I decided not to say anything until after I'd seen her alone. I wanted to get a sense from her if I was over reacting before I made a declaration of any kind. So I sat on my hands for several days while she acted like everything was normal and fine, and my guts were twisting.
I don't want to bore anyone with the details, but we had an alarmingly explosive dust up that involved her screaming and shrieking at me over something that wasn't really anyone's fault.
And I snapped.
I won't try to defend my actions, because I truly don't believe they are defensible. That being said, over the course of eighteen years, M has said and done things to me that, had she been a man, would justifiably (sp?) have earned a serious beating. The number of lamps and/or vases that have suffered a wrath that she earned over the years are countless. I think of myself as a protector, so I could never imagine the idea of striking a woman or child or anyone weaker than myself. My only defense is that I honestly don't believe I'd have done it if I wasn't already so upset about what was going on. And then she was shrieking in my face and I snapped.
I grabbed her by the blouse and flung her twelve feet across the room into the television cabinet. In the split second it happened, I tried to stop myself and catch her and apologize, but it was way too late. I ended up spending five minutes trying to cover my balls while she wailed on me with one of the cute grey Toms wedges that I'd recently bought her. (see how I can make myself look adorable even while explaining how much I'm not?) The whole time I'm thinking, "Take it. Just take it. You earned it." I couldn't hear out of my left ear for two days. Woman knows how to work a shoe.
Thankfully my sister was there and whisked CJ away as soon as the balloon went up. In the space of about ten minutes, our tempers came down and we began the process of apologizing to each other and talking. I told her that after what she said in our first counseling session, that I was done. She agreed and we started talking about how it would work and how to best make it easy on CJ.
I went to my first solo session with our counselor, during which she asked a lot of specific questions about my childhood. I've never shared with a therapist before and found the experience liberating. During the intervening time before our next couple session, M kept trying to start conversations about what went wrong and trying to consruct metaphors that would explain her behavior. Each one was more withering and emasculating than the last. The one I remember most went like this;
M- "Here's the thing Tony, you're charming and engaging in a childlike way and people like you. You're like Peter Pan".
Me- "Okay..."
M- "The thing is, Wendy doesn't marry Peter Pan".
Me- "I get that. So why did you?"
M-"I didn't realize what I was getting myself into and had a sort of 'buyer's remorse' after. I just thought I could manage my mistake".
She couldn't seem to stop herself from coming up with these gems and insisting on assaulting me with them, no matter how much it was killing me.
As I drove to our next session together, my heart started pounding and I couldn't get it together. I walked into the office ten minutes early and our therapist saw what a wreck I was. I told her that I didn't think I was emotionally prepared for the session and that if I had to endure one more word from my wife regarding her perspective of my inadequacies, I would melt through the floor. She assured me that, based on our responses to work she'd given us regarding how we engage each other during conflict, she planned on doing most of the talking that day and if M began to go in that direction, she'd shut her down. I agreed to stay. I have to say that this woman is damned good at her job. Based on joint and personal interviews, coupled with our answers on the forms (which I have to say, M answered astonishlingly honestly) she was able to illustrate to us how our natural personalities only fed a loop of conflict no matter our best intentions. It was a very illuminating session and I'm glad I decided to stay.
That being said, I still didn't leave the session feeling any sense that M and I stood any chance. At best, we need to continue counseling so that we can learn to communicate better while we raise our son.
I also probably need to find my own therapist so I can begin to explore and deal with my own issues.
I left the session that day and drove straight to an apartment complex I'd been eyeing and turned in an application for a nice little one bedroom overlooking a pool about fifty yards from the Beltline.
The way I felt at the moment I walked into counseling that day and the way I felt when I strolled out of the leasing office a few hours later were leagues apart.
I now had a plan and knew what I was going to do. I take possession of my new digs in a couple of weeks.
Can't wait!

Mar. 14th, 2014

Joe's Hen House Part Five


Mar. 12th, 2014

Storms we cannot weather...

I've known in my bones for several years that it just wasn't sustainable. I just didn't know when or how it would happen. Somehow I felt that it had a life of it's own and so, deserved a death of it's own. In any case, while we will be forever joined by our beautiful son as well as enough respect for each other to maintain a healthy relationship, the bottom line is divorce.
We'd had a couple of bad flare ups lately and agreed to couples counseling. We spent weeks researching online until we identified five different practices that looked promising. Together we decided on the strongest choice and made an appointment. This process was important to me because the last time we saw a counselor, it was someone recommended by a friend of hers and I spent a year feeling like I was getting punked. Anyway we made the appointment.
It's important to understand that before we got married, we had many frank and open conversations about what we wanted and who we wanted to be. She wanted to climb the corporate ladder and live the big life. That's what she's good at and I actually enjoy watching her do it, so I agreed. I told her that I was always going to be the flaky freelance artist and that my choice came with no guarantee of financial security. I'd always aim for success, but the nature of life as an artist is a crapshoot at best. Those of you who paint, dance, write, or make music for a living will understand.  She agreed and we got married.
So we arrive at our first session. I liked the therapist. She asked us to tell her how we met and to talk about what we admired about each other in the beginning. We both went on about each other for a while. She eloquently made me sound like God's gift.  Then the counselor asked about what we wanted to work on. I said that I'd been desperately unhappy for years because my wife isn't remotely interested in me romantically or sexually and I'm drowning in loneliness within the confines of my marriage. The counselor asked her if this was an issue for her as well, and did she want to work on it. She  shrugged it off and said that the subject was more important to me than her. Then her posture changed. She became angry and aggressive and explained to the woman that her real issue with me was that I didn't have a retirement plan and rarely managed to save money. That I was ten to fifteen years away from being a stone around the necks of her and my son. Then she laughed and said that I shouldn't take that personally. She wasn't mad at me for being me. She was mad at herself for marrying a guy like me. You know that moment when you realize that you've just thrown away 18 years of your life?
This isn't the whole story and I can't honestly say that I can paint a portrait of myself as the innocent good guy/victim. I definitely have things to work on. Looks like that's the next step. In any case, the grand experiment has run it's course. We're done. 

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